Fidel and Raúl Castro at the closing of Cuba's Communist Party Congress. Photo by Ismael Rodríguez.
Cuba, This Week in Latin America

Cuba Shuffles Communist Party Leadership And Approves Economic Reforms

April 20, 2011 By Staff

Fidel and Raúl Castro at the closing of Cuba's Communist Party Congress. Photo by Ismael Rodríguez.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — The Cuban Communist Party changed its leadership Tuesday, but gave little indication as to whom they planned to entrust the revolution as the old guard nears the grave.

As expected, the Party Congress officially retired Fidel Castro, who had held the title of first secretary. Fidel Castro wrote in a Reflection published last month that he gave up the position in 2006 when he became ill and his brother Raúl took over as head of state, but Raúl’s formal ascension to the position of first secretary did not take place formally until Tuesday.

The choice to replace Raúl Castro as second secretary of the party — José Ramón Ventura Machado — dashed expectations that the party leadership would reveal a young politician being groomed for power. Ventura Machado, 80, fought in the revolution with the Castros and has worked for the Cuban government since the revolution triumphed in 1959.

The Communist Party had not held a congress for 14 years before this weekend.

Fidel Castro, 84, attended the closure of the Party Congress, but did not speak.

While no one figure stood out, several younger politicians rose to positions of importance. Former Economy Minister Marino Murillo, 50, was elected to the party’s leadership council, as were current Economy Minister Adel Izquierdo, 65, and the Communist Party Chief of Havana Lazara Mercedes López, 46.

The new roster for the Communist Party is available at CubaDebate.

The changes in the party leadership come just days after Castro proposed enacting term limits in order to rejuvenate the island’s political system, currently presided over by the geriatric generation that came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Congress approved a package of 300 economic reforms aimed at liberalizing the island’s economy, while maintaining the central planning of the socialist system, The Financial Times reports. The reforms were based on the “Guidelines to Economic and Social Policy,” released in November.

Raúl Castro, the driving forces behind the effort to reform the economy, reaffirmed the political leadership’s commitment to socialism in his closing speech. “Modernizing the economic model is not a miracle that can be accomplished overnight like some believe,” Castro said, adding that he would never allow “the return of a capitalist regime.”

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Image: CubaDebate.

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1 Comment

cubana1960 says:

It’s not only the Castro dictatorship that has one foot in the grave but , more importantly, the ridiculous “communist” economic system they have used to control the people of Cuba and destroy all civil rights.

Que viva Cuba libre!

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